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Writing Workshops Asheville April 2024

One of our most popular writing retreats returns to the Biltmore Estate in 2024, offering two distinct writing workshops led by Diana Spechler and Nancy Sharp! Our program is inclusive, intentionally small, and takes place in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, rich with history and inspiration.

Our Generative Writing Workshop for Fiction & Nonfiction writers is led by acclaimed novelist and New York Times columnist Diana Spechler. Diana, who has led our destination retreats to Dublin, Paris, and Hawaii, will head to Asheville to guide participants through the nuances of character development, plot structuring, and engaging narrative voice, making this an ideal opportunity for aspiring and seasoned writers alike. Whether you're working on a novel, a memoir, or short stories, this cohort will provide the tools and inspiration to bring your ideas to life. Participants will benefit from Diana's expertise in storytelling, gaining insights into the publishing world and honing their craft for potential publication.

Our Life Letters Workshop is led by Nancy Sharp, an award-winning author, speaker and storytelling coach. Inspired by the decades-old curriculum of Guided Autobiography and the ancient tradition of writing ethical wills and legacy letters, the Life Letters Workshop is for individuals of all backgrounds who are passionate about articulating what matters most—family and personal lore, deeply held values, life lessons, and memorable  stories. Benefits of this track include enhanced self-understanding, alignment with personal values, and strengthened family relationships across generations. The Life Letter is a gift to yourself, your loved ones, and your community, today and over time. In many instances, it can also forge a path to publication.

The Life Letters Workshop and Generative Writing Workshop are open to individuals as well as couples. Regardless of your writing experience, you’ll walk away with enhanced storytelling techniques, a stronger voice on the page, and potentially, a path to publication. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to delve into the stories, history, and experiences that have shaped your journey or to create new worlds and characters that resonate with readers. Join us in this celebration of storytelling, personal growth, and creative exploration.


Applications for our April 2024 workshops are Now Open and will close on February 22nd, 2024.


Workshop Dates:

April 10 - 14, 2024

All interested participants are encouraged to apply now as applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


2024 Retreat Faculty:


Generative Writing Workshop (For Fiction & Nonfiction Writers) Instructor Diana Spechler is the author of the novels Who by Fire and Skinny and of the New York Times Opinion series Going Off. Her work has appeared in GQ, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Harper's, Esquire, Playboy, National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, Washington Post, Ploughshares, and many other publications. She is the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, including a Hawthornden Castle Residency, a Yaddo Residency, the Steinbeck Fellowship, and the Orlando Creative Nonfiction Prize from A Room of Her Own Foundation. She is also a seven-time Moth Story Slam winner who has been featured on NPR.
Life Letters Workshop Instructor Nancy Sharp is a sought-after speaker, trainer, author, and story muse. She never set out to change people’s lives, but hard life experience led her to do just that. Today, Nancy helps others to leave their mark in the world, often as a written legacy for loved ones and future generations. "Transformative," is the word clients repeatedly use to describe her work. Nancy’s gift for fostering meaningful storytelling engenders radical empathy, purpose, and deep connection and community. Nancy holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and is a certified instructor in Guided Autobiography. Winner of the Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and First Book Finalist for Books for a Better Life, her debut memoir Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living is a portrait of the surprising turns life takes and the resilience it takes to keep stepping forward. She is also the author of the picture book Because the Sky is Everywhere and has ghost written several other works, including a family legacy book for a client that led to an interview with Warren Buffett in his Omaha office and to her becoming an associate producer on a forthcoming documentary called Who Are the Marcuses? Nancy has been published in several essay anthologies, and articles, essays, columns, and letters by her have appeared in The New York Times, AARP’s The Ethel, Katie Couric's Wake-Up Call, Next Avenue, The Huffington Post, journals for the American Academy of Psychotherapists and the University of Colorado Hospital’s Center for Bioethics and the Humanities, and elsewhere.


About The Biltmore Estate



Lodging at The Biltmore

Set amid the 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, our Writing Workshop takes place at The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889. Known as America’s Largest Home®, the Biltmore offers a serene setting to step away from everyday distractions and immerse yourself in the art of writing.


*Each participant will have their own room. If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.


Tuition

Tuition is $2,995 for participants who stay at The Village Hotel at the Biltmore Estate. Tuition includes the following:
  • Daily breakfast and four nights at the historic Biltmore Estate.
  • Generative Writing Sessions led by Nancy Sharp and Diana Spechler
  • Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Diana Spechler
  • Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
  • Opening night reception and dinner.
  • Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
  • A once in a lifetime experience.
  • For Nancy's Life Letters Group: a Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
  • For Nancy's Life Letters Group: a video recording of you reading your Life Letter.
  • Note: If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
  • Expanded FAQ at the bottom of this page.

2024 Schedule Overview

*Final 2024 Schedule Detail is Forthcoming.
Wednesday
4:00 PM: Hotel check-in begins.
5:00 PM: Meet & greet happy hour followed by dinner.

Thursday - Saturday
8:00 AM: Breakfast
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM: Group meetings and writing.
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM: Lunch
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM: more group meetings and writing.
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Group activities such as visiting The Biltmore Estate, Downtown Asheville, and a reading of everyone's work on the final afternoon.
6:00 PM Dinner.

Sunday
11:00 AM: Hotel check out.

Retreat Testimonials


"The experience exceeded my expectations: the meticulous planning and organization, the participants, and particularly, the instructors. Diana Spechler (my nonfiction workshop instructor) was a joy: straight-forward, knowledgeable, supportive and accessible. I left with a solid sense of how to approach my nonfiction work, but more importantly, I greatly appreciated Diana's support of my work in general." -Joanna S.

"Nancy Sharp does life-changing work."  - William Silvers, M.D.

"The communication leading up to the workshop was excellent. Diana was a wonderful workshop leader and I would gladly take a class from her again. As organizers, Blake and Mike cover all the bases so attendees can totally relax in the environment and focus on writing and group connections. The overall experience, the inclusion of food and housing, the community that was built, the work we did -- thumbs up on everything!" -Catherine V.

"I've wanted to write a legacy document for my family for many years. With Nancy's guidance, I finally did it."  - Evi Makovsky 

"I’m so glad I had the opportunity to receive constructive feedback on my book-in-progress from both Diana and my new writing community! Merci, merci." -Christina K.

"Nancy is an extraordinary teacher and muse for anyone looking to reflect more deeply on meaningful life experiences."  - Damon McLeese 

"Writing my Life Letter was a life-changing experience."  - Kathy Feigal 

"Nancy sees things in each student that makes them see something purposeful in themselves and one another, leading to real growth. Anyone who works with her is lucky to come under her spell."  - Don Donato  

"Participating in this retreat and writing my Life Letter is one of the bravest, most authentic things I have ever done." - Deana Kennedy 

"Nancy is masterful at her craft, meeting people where they are at in life, helping them overcome resistance and barriers, and bringing out their deepest thoughts and sentiments."  - Eric Sondermann  

"We all need gurus to guide us, and Nancy Sharp has become mine as I strive to find meaning in my life story, and share it with loved ones."  - Leland Rudofsky


Application & General FAQ

What is the application deadline?

Applications for our April 2024 Generative Writing Retreat at the Biltmore are now open and close on February 22nd, 2024, but early applications are encouraged.

When will I know if I've been accepted to the workshop?

Our goal is to provide an intimate and memorable retreat so that participants can find meaning during and after the retreat. We will accept applicants on a rolling basis until the retreat is full and then begin waitlists. Writers are encouraged to apply early.

How much does it cost?

Tuition is $2,995 for participants who stay at The Village Hotel.

Are Payment Plans Available?

Yes. Accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting Shop Pay or Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) at checkout.

What does tuition include? 


-Daily breakfast and four nights at the historic Biltmore Estate.
-Generative Writing Retreat led by Nancy Sharp and Diana Spechler
-Personalized guidance and coaching by Nancy Sharp and Diana Spechler.
-Afternoon group activities including visits to The Biltmore House and Gardens, Downtown Asheville, and The Biltmore Winery.
-Opening night reception and dinner.
-Closing night happy hour reception and reading.
-A once in a lifetime experience.
-For those in Nancy's cohort, a Life Letter Keepsake Folder & Box: an enduring gift for you, your loved ones, and community.
-For Nancy's Life Letters Group: a video recording of you reading your Life Letter.
-Note: If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.
-Note: accepted writers will have the option to pay their tuition in full or  opt for a payment plan divided into equal monthly payments by selecting  Shop Pay or Affirm (for U.S. & Canadian residents) or Lay-Buy (for applicants  outside of North America) at checkout.


What is tuition payment schedule? 

If your application is accepted, full tuition is due within 14 days of acceptance. You can pay your tuition in full or opt for a payment plan by selecting Affirm or Shop Pay at checkout.

Can I book extra nights to arrive a few days early or stay a few days after the workshop?

Yes, if you would like to add nights at the hotel before or after the workshop, inquire with us for rates and availability.

What is your refund policy for The Biltmore Retreat?

Given the intimate nature of our destination workshops and our own, non-refundable deposit schedule as organizers, our refund policy is as follows: 

90+ days before your trip, tuition payment minus a $250 deposit is fully refundable.  

60+ days before your trip: 50% of your tuition is refundable.  

30+ days before your: 25% of your tuition is refundable.  

Less than 30 days before your trip: no refunds can be offered.

Where is the hotel and workshop venue?

Set amid 75 acres of formal and informal gardens and 8,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains, the Biltmore House in historic Ashville, NC, was commissioned by George Vanderbilt in 1889 and is known as America’s Largest Home ®. Asheville Regional Airport is the nearest airport to the Biltmore. The address for the entrance to Biltmore Estate is 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803.

Can I bring my spouse/partner? 

If you would like to bring your spouse/partner please let us know. Tuition will be discounted for your spouse/partner less the cost of the hotel room.

What will you do with my email?

We respect your privacy. We will only use your email to send you  information about Writing Workshops. We won't sell or rent your  email to other organizations.

I have a question not answered here.

Please contact us and we’ll reply promptly. You can also Chat with us (lower left of your screen).